Designing our latest office: 100% SGP – with a London twist
The Stephen George + Partners (SGP) interior design team has created a bespoke interior look for the practice’s new London office at 87 Worship Street in bohemian Shoreditch. Interior designer Jess Greenhalgh talks about the challenges and joys of designing a practical workspace with a singular London feel, especially when your own colleagues are your clients.
SGP’s London team had been working out of serviced offices for a while, but it became obvious, despite the pandemic emphasis on home-working, that we needed for our own home – a physical base from which to work, for face-to-face collaboration and in person meetings, as well as somewhere for visiting colleagues to settle themselves. So what better opportunity for the interior design team to create another office that was tailored to our own needs?
We began the project as we would any other clients; defining the brief, making presentations, outlining the design ethos and, I hope, creating a space that was pleasing to everyone. We refined the design brief into a practical workspace that was completely SGP, but with a London twist; that almost indefinable “London feeling” that would appeal to clients and potential clients and make them feel as at home in the space as our own colleagues.
The converted warehouse has a 1930s feel to the exterior, and our new 108 sqm office has a light, bright, open feel with a welcome area, kitchenette, informal breakout area, meeting room, desk spaces (work zone) and agile work area.
We worked with the expansive windows and resulting flood of natural light, keeping the space uncluttered and airy but functional and robust enough for everyday office work.
The informal area, for casual chats with clients or colleagues, has a definite London feel – being very relaxed but with strong design edge. In keeping with the design of the building, the team chose furniture with clean architectural lines, such as Eames-style chairs. We included a bespoke cube form unit to divide the informal from formal work area, whose mix of closed drawers and open apertures allows for displays of colourful samples such as fabrics or models, as well as plants.
The furniture is pre-loved, from supplier Crown Workspace. We could either chose finished pieces or select items to be refurbished and refinished to our specification. As well as being much more sustainable and cost-effective, buying the furniture this way meant that lead times were cut to just 3-4 weeks. Our only issue came with Orangebox Do task chairs – tried and tested favourites at our other offices – which were out of stock, but thankfully easily re-ordered.
Despite being a more formal working area, the Work Zone avoids solidly uniform rows of desks by splitting them into two ranges, four seats apiece, arranged at right angles to make the area more user friendly and appealing. Nearby is the agile work zone – a series of desks that can be used by visiting colleagues to work for a few hours or days, or by incumbent staff who need extra space to collaborate.
Nearby we included a working wall; a concept that stems directly from how we work as a team. Magnetic and wipeable, the wall space acts as the clearinghouse for our ideas and a visual representation of our discussions. We talked about having a statement artwork or something similar but this much better represents the dynamics and fluidity of how we work – as well as being incredibly useful!
The design keeps the colour palette simple – SGP’s corporate colours are seen in items such as the desks with their white tops and black legs, but we avoided a wholly monochrome effect. We introduced bright hits of colour in the informal area as well as introducing shades of green that pulse through the potted plants dotting the office, are planted into the top of the unusual free-standing credenza units, and are reflected in the mossy green dividing screen. In our Leicester and Leeds offices, these screens are a more vibrant lime green, but here we felt that was too exaggerated a contrast to the rest of the space.
It was incredibly exciting to be working on another SGP office, a brand-new space for our own colleagues and an important step in SGP’s strategy for growth and development. Hopefully, we’ve designed an interior that, in combining practicality, welcome and great design, generates a positive energy that is wholly SGP – with a London twist.